TAMPA — Bucs S Dashon Goldson, already fined and suspended a game this season for tackling opponents high, drew a personal foul penalty Sunday for a helmet-to-helmet tackle on Rams WR Stedman Bailey, but his coach is optimistic the sanctions won't extend beyond the yards lost on the field.
"That's bang-bang. He had no way of avoiding that, other than settling down on the guy and possibly missing him or hurting himself," coach Greg Schiano said Monday. "It's unfortunate that it happened. The way it's being called, that's going to be called 100 out of 100 times. I hope that it's just a penalty."
Early in the fourth quarter, QB Kellen Clemens hit Bailey for a 13-yard gain across the middle. Goldson took two steps and tackled him, but initiated contact helmet to helmet before wrapping him up with his arms. The half-the-distance penalty set up a first and goal, which led to a field goal and a seven-point lead with 11:15 to play.
After the game, Goldson expressed frustration at the way officials scrutinize tackling this season, making defensive backs change instincts to avoid penalties or worse.
"The new football is discouraging. It's hard. It's really hard," Goldson said. "It's deeper than I thought it was."
Goldson will find out this week if he faces a fine or another suspension from the league — his coach said he has seen specific changes from Goldson in how he approaches receivers, even in practice.
"That's a tough one, that play right there," Schiano said. "You could say 'Take a nose dive' but that's not what he's going do. High speed, guys moving, changing levels. It's clear he's really worked to change his aiming point on his contact. Even in practice, he works on it, as he approaches guys, you can see him lower his center of gravity, even though we're not in pads."
Injury update: Schiano said Sunday's loss left three of his five linebackers injured leading to the finale at New Orleans.
"We have some health issues, defensively," Schiano said. "Dekoda (Watson) has a groin, Lavonte (David) has an elbow, Ka'Lial Glaud has a knee. Offensively, I think we came out of it fairly decent."
Schiano gave no indication of the extent of the injuries. David had his right elbow iced after Sunday's 23-13 loss, and only two healthy linebackers are left: starter Mason Foster and backup and special-teams captain Adam Hayward. The Bucs already have former starter Jonathan Casillas on injured reserve.
TE Tim Wright had trainers attend to him on the field Sunday, but got up on his own and later returned to the game. He said Monday he had a bruised shin but feels fine and will be able to face the Saints.
Larger issues: Bucs guard Carl Nicks, sidelined more than two months with a foot injury after being diagnosed with a MRSA infection, could face a longer absence, according to foxsports.com.
The site reported Nicks will see a foot specialist to see why he's still bothered by symptoms that limited him with a toe injury last year. Nicks "might be dealing with nerve damage that has affected the strength and sensation in his foot," the site reported. Nicks has not been placed on injured reserve, though he hasn't practiced since mid October.
The Bucs declined to put another player affected by MRSA, K Lawrence Tynes, on injured reserve. They put him on the non-football injury list, prompting a grievance from Tynes.